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Insured Percent Up; Care Affordability Plunging

The Affordable Care Act raised insured rates. But … at the expense (pun intended!) of sharply rising, burdensome, and worrisome out-of-pocket costs: massive deductibles and copays, inflated prices for drugs, and denied services. Our fragmented profit-extracting insurance model is fixable only with a structural makeover – single payer.

May 18, 2024

Health costs threaten to overshadow Biden’s historic coverage gains
May 14, 2024
By Caitlin Owens

[HJM bolding]

President Biden has come closer than any of his Democratic predecessors to reaching the party’s standing goal of universal health coverage, but unaffordable care costs may overshadow the achievement.

Voters feeling the pain of inflation are more concerned about their own health costs than whether everyone will have some level of coverage.

> Voters’ most common health care priority by far is lowering out-of-pocket costs, KFF polling found.

> “Certainly we have more people covered, whose concern has shifted from fear of being discriminated against (by insurers) to fear of not being able to access care affordability,” said Democratic strategist Chris Jennings.

> “Health reform efforts in the past have been largely framed around expanding insurance coverage,” said KFF executive vice president Larry Levitt. “Whenever the next health reform debate comes, it will likely be focused on the cost burden, including for those with insurance.”

> A Commonwealth Fund survey last year found that more than half of people who buy their own coverage on the ACA marketplaces or elsewhere said it was difficult to afford care.

> People have always been concerned about health care costs, but the salience goes up when I can’t pay for food and milk and gas and everything else,” said Harvard professor emeritus Robert Brendon, an expert on public opinion and health care. “The temperature about this rises because they’re having trouble paying their bills.”

The bottom line: “We’re always going to be (going) at the quality of health care and the cost,” said Wendell Primus, a former adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Those issues are not going to go away. Even if we solve them temporarily, they’re never going to go away.”


Comment by: Don McCanne

So people are more concerned about their own health care costs than they are about whether or not other people are covered for their costs. This would be better phrased if we said that people are concerned about their own health care costs, but they also want to be participants in a thriving economy where everyone else is doing well.

What do you suppose they would think if they were offered a system that provided better coverage than they have now but cost them less? Do you think that they would object if that system offered the same comprehensive benefits to everyone else, but was made affordable by funding it through progressive taxation? Would the fact that the very wealthy paid more taxes that would have absolutely no negative impact on their lifestyles be a reason to reject a program that ensured that everyone had access to the health care that they needed? Of course, that is precisely what a well-designed single payer system would bring us. The cost might not ever go away, but we can readily manage it for everyone by the simple process of enacting and implementing single payer.

About the Commentator, Don McCanne

Don McCanne is a retired family practitioner who dedicated the 2nd phase of his career to speaking and writing extensively on single payer and related issues. He served as Physicians for a National Health Program president in 2002 and 2003, then as Senior Health Policy Fellow. For two decades, Don wrote "Quote of the Day", a daily health policy update which inspired HJM.

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